Travel tips

/Travel tips

Can you retire cheap in Mendoza, Argentina?

Mendoza is known for it’s great meat and wine but can you retire cheap here?

The short answer is no you cannot retire cheap here.

If you retire cheap it won’t be in Mendoza, Argentina.

You will however think you’ve died and gone to heaven if you like beef, wine and bicycles.

Getting here from Valparaíso, Chile is easy.

LINK TO WHY RETIRE IN VALPO

You just have to get a comfy bus from CATA. They sell the tickets online, and at Terminal Sol.

TIP: The CATA bus you can buy the CAMA levels, which is a 160 degree reclining seat. They don’t have a full recline bed seat, but it’s pretty comfy.

On the bus you’ll get a meal box, so you don’t have to bring food …. maybe a few snacks

Then the dreaded border crossing occurs.

Not too bad, more of a boredom crossing.

You’ll wait about 5 hours, behind all the other busses as you exit the Chile crossing. Then you’ll drive a bit, and get to the Argentina entry point.

They’ll unload the bus, and check random passenger bags.

TIP: The people who are unloading all the bags will expect some small change as a tip. Have some pesos readily available.

Then after a few more hours you’ll be in Mendoza!

Mendoza has one of the most beautiful bus terminals I’ve ever seen.

I cannot think of a better one. Unlike most of the bus terminals I’ve seen, this one is super safe and clean with lots of stores. (Unlike the one in Arequipa, Peru which looks like you’ll be murdered getting in.) It looks like a modern airport terminal, rather than a decrepit bus terminal from the 80’s.

TIP: Get a phone card here. There’s a kiosk that will sell you a prepaid phone card. About $12 should do it.

TIP: Change money here. Argentina even though it’s super developed is oddly not that credit card friendly. Chile is much more so. In Chile we could use credit cards 50% of the time. Here it’s 20% of the time. You can change money at the Turbus kiosk. You’ll have people asking to change your money inside the terminal, go with one you trust, with the best interest rate.

TIP: They offered the same rate as the real cambio downtown, it was 43:1 USD:Peso if you gave them big bills.

If you are giving them small bills 20’s and under they give you 40:1. Obviously don’t do that.

You’re going to want to change money because the ATMS are brutal. Huge fee’s and low withdrawal limits.

The banks are even worse.

We tried twice to get money exchanged. It’s awful. Long lines, and all in bad. They close at 1pm, and don’t do money exchange.

(We tried HSBC and Bank of Argentina.)

Eventually we found a Cambio house to exchange our cash.

FOOD IN MENDOZA:

The food here is wonderful, but it’s not cheap. The price of a cheese pizza is $8 (all prices in Canadian).

The cost of this meal was $30 for 2 ribeyes and a bottle of wine. (Don’t forget the tip here is expected at 10%.)

I know this is super cheap compared to Canada.

And the beef and wine are really really good.

I’m from Alberta and know my beef. The Argentinian beef is great. And if you love wine? The $7 bottle was the equivalent of $20 bottle back home.

Saying that though, my budget for daily living is $15 a day, so I can’t afford steak and wine every day.

(Here’s how to order your doneness level in Spanish)

I found a brand of cheap wine I loved, that I bought at VEA (like a Walmart), it was under $3 for a 1.2 liter bottle.

Cooking meat at home also was much cheaper.

You can see that it averages out at about $5 for one of these packages.

Vegetables are pricier, almost the same price as back home.

There are lots of vegetarian restaurants and gluten friendly choices in Mendoza.

There aren’t cheap menu del Dias meals though, unlike in Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.

On average I’d say the food here is 50% more expensive than those countries.

TOTAL COST? (THE PRICES BELOW ARE IN ARGENTINIAN PESOS)

These were the itemized costs. One thing to note, taxis, I used Cabify, versus the normal taxis. Also all meals and things should be divided by 2 because I was traveling with my travel buddy.

SAFETY

Mendoza is super safe. I don’t see any problems here. Obviously, take common sense precautions, but it’s just like back home.

ENGLISH

Non existent, just like the rest of South America. They also speak a strange dialect of Spanish, so even though I can speak a basic travel Spanish, it was really difficult here.

GYMS

This is another area where Mendoza stands out. I signed up for the Mendoza tennis club. It allows access to a great gym and tennis for $40 a month.

As I’ve travelled the world looking for the best countries to retire cheap, I’ve noticed that I’ve been in 3rd world countries a lot.

(I know it’s not really politically correct to use that term anymore, vs developing nations.)

Mendoza is a 2nd world vs 1st world or 3rd world. And is priced accordingly.

I’d say it would be a great transition city versus Medellin, Colombia if you are coming to South America for the first time.

LINK TO CURRENT BEST COUNTRIES TO RETIRE CHEAP RANKINGS

WHO SHOULD RETIRE HERE?

  • You love BBQ
  • You love safety
  • You love bicycles (lots of bike lanes here), and lots of parks.
  • You love wine
  • Great bus system
  • Cabify exists here
  • Great gyms
  • Red clay tennis courts
  • You can order food delivery

WHY YOU SHOULD NOT RETIRE HERE

  • Cost of living is more that $1000 a month. $1500 is a better budget
  • You don’t want to learn Argentinian Spanish. It’s annoying.
  • Not that walkable, the city is big. If you’re in one area, near the center, it will still be about 10 000 steps a day to get around.

I loved Mendoza, and will 100% recommend staying here for a visit, but it’s too expensive for this budget traveler. (Also, if you come to Mendoza, stay far away from Casa del Park Hostel, worst place I’ve stayed in the world.)

All in all I hope you enjoyed this summary and if you want to read more

LINK TO ALL THE BEST ARTICLES

Can you retire cheap in Mendoza, Argentina?2019-08-06T21:47:53+00:00

How to get from Lima, Peru to Valparaíso, Chile.

I love taking the buses here in South America. They are awesome. They are either lie down 180 degree seats, or semi lie down at 140 degree seats. Super comfortable.

And if you’re retiring cheap, then you have a ton of time on your hands and not that much money.

When I looked into heading to Chile, I thought of definitely using the bus.

Till I looked at the price!

The price was the same for the bus as the plane!

And the plane was 4 hours versus 24 hours by bus.

Ok. Plane it is.

After a quick flight on Viva Air (which was surprising good….) I was in Santiago,
Chile.

There they have various options on how to get to downtown. Metered cab, Tourist taxi, buses, shared shuttles.

But, I wasn’t going to Santiago downtown. I wanted to head to the nearby town of Valparaíso.

Surprising there is a bus that leaves DIRECTLY from the airport to this town. No need to go into Santiago proper at all! Hurray!

Here’s how to get there.

1. Collect your luggage. The Santiago airport is reallllllly reallllly big, it’ll take you a while to get from the plane to the luggage. Also you’re going to have to go through customs, and security.

2. After collecting your luggage. Head to exit 6. This is called Salida 6.

3. Go to the Turbus office, it’s right there at exit 6.

4. Buy your ticket. It costs so little, that I thought they didn’t understand me.

6000 pesos is the equivalent of about $12 Canadian. They take credit card, and yes that includes American Express.

5. After getting your ticket, head outside. There are all these different areas for different types of transportation. Turbus has it’s own spot. Look for the sign.

6. Get on the bus, and enjoy an awesome ride to Valparaíso …. it’s about 2 hours and the highways are smooth and not bumpy

Hope this helps you on your goal to finding the best country to retire cheap. Stay on this blog to see if Valparaiso, Chile makes the list!

How to get from Lima, Peru to Valparaíso, Chile.2019-06-28T15:54:23+00:00

Machu Picchu tips 2019

Machu Piccu is one of those must see’s in the world, and while you might never retire cheap there, here is a guide on one of the world wonders.

1. Getting there can be tricky. You have to get to Aguas Calientes and take a bus from there. To get to Aguas Calientes you have to take a train from a different city. To get to that city you have to get to Cusco. It’s multi step, and I recommend doing it over several days not one day. It’s possible to do it in one day, but that’s 7 hours of travel.

2. When you get to Machu Picchu, bring a ton of water. My friends got super dehydrated. The official online site says, that you can’t bring a water bottle. That is a lie.

Bring a couple big 1 liter bottles.

3. Don’t buy food at Machu Picchu, It’s super expensive, buy it all in Aguas Caliente.

And bring it in with you.

The views are beautiful, and there are no time limits.

4. You can buy a ticket to Machu Picchu anytime, but there are several mountains in the area that you can’t get into without pre buying. They limit the visitors to 400 a day.

5. You don’t need a guide. Again the site says, a guide is mandatory. This is a lie.

Also the guide says, no selfie sticks. Not true.

6. Total cost of a trip to Machu Picchu will cost about $300 not including housing Canadian.

7. Food in Aguas Calientes is actually not too bad. A tourist menu is about $10 a day, and beers are $3 each. To get this price you have to get out of the main square though.

8. Machu Picchu is definitely worth seeing! If you get altitude sickness grab some coca leaves, they have them everywhere. And if you are prone to motion sickness pack Dramamine, the roads there are bumpy.

Machu Picchu tips 20192019-06-27T21:09:03+00:00

I’m staying in a Sh*thole Hostel and I love it!

When you’re looking for the best places to retire cheap you have 3 choices of where to stay.

1. A fancy hotel.

2. A private apartment

3. A hostel

(Funny thing is a hostel is the MOST expensive option)

Here’s what you got to do!

The smart thing to do when you arrive in a new in city is to ONLY book a couple of nights.

You don’t what to find yourself in a crime ridden ghetto. And even worse than a crime ridden ghetto? Somewhere with no transit, crappy cabs and no way to get out easily.

This month my crazy adventure was to live in the physically grossest place I’ve ever lived in the world. Think flies everywhere, and no soap in the bathroom.

Here’s what my day looks like…..

I wake up (in my private room which I paid $180 CAN a month for) to hear the people downstairs lighting their morning marijuana joint. In Peru, marijuana isn’t a big deal. (Unless you are dealing, it’s still illegal).

For me, the weed smoke isn’t a huge problem. I’ve been around weed smokers my whole life. The hostel dogs know I’m awake, and are scritch scratching at my door.

“Why hello Farty and Hyper!” I have never had dogs growing up. I can see why people love them.

They are just soooooo happy to see you!

I head out to the bathroom. I bring my own toilet paper! (I’ve been here for a month. I know the chances of TP are rare)

I’m looking forward to breakfast, which is going to be at the mall. There’s a tasty Sausage McMuffin waiting for me!

The kitchen here is disgusting

I don’t know how they cook in it.

So, yeah that’s a downside.

But let’s skip forward to the best part of my day! After the gym…..this is what I found happening…

Random BBQ!

Some of the guys who work here, have grabbed some wood, and feed it to our slow cooker.

5 hours later, I’m drinking $1 rum and eating some of the tastiest bbq I’ve ever had.

This is the #1 reason I love staying in a Sh*thole hostel. The chaos and randomness is always so fun!

If I lived in a fancy hotel? This would never happen. They might have BBQ on the menu, but the spirit of randomness would never be there.

I’ll tell you mor but I’ve got to get back to my random game of Peru Monopoly.

I’m staying in a Sh*thole Hostel and I love it!2019-04-19T22:43:49+00:00

Cruz del Sur CONFORT SUITE review

So, as you know I love the bus in Peru!

I got a chance to try the new Cruz Del Sur CONFORT suite bus, and it was pretty sweet.

Here’s the YOUTUBE LINK TO REVIEW

BUT …

If you hate watching videos, like I do at times here’s the key points.

  • It’s worth it
  • Bring a jacket/poncho
  • Bring a sleep mask
  • Bring noise cancelling headphones
  • Pick a seat ahead of time
  • Do not pick a seat in the back
  • Bring food. It’s not first class food.

LINK TO CRUZ DEL SUR WEBSITE

Cruz del Sur CONFORT SUITE review2019-02-03T17:42:38+00:00

Getting from Cuenca to Mancora by bus

If you’re looking for the best places to retire cheap, that means you are going to be hopping from country to country.

As you know Cuenca, Ecuador is my number one place in 2018 to retire cheap.

If you’re looking for options though, Peru is somewhere to explore.

How are you going to get there?

You can either fly, which I personally find crazy expensive or take the bus like a native.

Here’s a step by step guide to taking the bus. And if you want to watch a video version of this you can check it out on my YouTube link here.

1. You’re going to need to get a taxi to Terminal Terrestre. If you’ve been living in Centro then this cab ride should cost under $3 USD.

2.Be careful when you get there, Terminal Terrestre is terribly unsafe. This is the only place where I’ve had one of my bags stolen. While they have guards there, homeless people hover like vultures waiting for you to not see them.

I got my bag stolen when a homeless person came up asking for change, I said no and then looked away. When I looked away. they grabbed my backpack off the ground and ran.

Lesson learned. Keep eye contact until you see them leave.

3. Go to the Azuay office and buy a ticket. They don’t take credit cards. Why? I don’t know.

4. The Azuay buses are super comfy, and I highly recommend them.

5.Terminal Terrestre itself is awful. There’s no wifi, you have to pay for bathrooms (which are gross) and even pay to use the terminal (10 cents to leave).

6.After getting on the Azuay buy to Mancora it’s a several hour bus ride

7. Then you’re going to stop at immigration. The immigration is cool. The exit and entrance are in the same building.

8.After standing in line to get your exit from Ecuador stamp you get back into line to get your entry to Peru stamp.

9.There is no cost to get a Peru visa, and you can get one for 6 months as a Canadian.

10.Then it’s back onto your bus. Be careful. Your bus is not where you were dropped off.

11.Because so many buses come through, you’re going to have to walk for a few blocks to the designated bus area. If you get lost just ask a security guard for AZUAY!

12. After landing in Mancora, the buses will dump you off roadside. There will be a swarm of Tuk Tuk drivers fighting for your business.

13. You should have Sols by this point, because USD is no longer used once you cross the border.

14. A Tuk Tuk to Loki (where I stayed) should be under 3 Sols. The guys will all quote 5 Sols. Don’t just take their quote.

I hope this blog helps you on your next border crossing to Peru, and don’t forget if you like what I write to share this blog!

Getting from Cuenca to Mancora by bus2019-01-08T05:38:46+00:00

A New York Style Pizza at Chicago Pizza Restaurant in Ecuador.

November 24, 2018……It’s a gorgeous day, 20 degrees with a light breeze. Time to venture out of my apartment to get some lunch.

What’s lunch look like in Cuenca, Ecuador?

Today it was a $1 slice of New York Style Pizza at a place called Chicago Pizza Restaurant.

It is New York Style, but it’s definitely not New York quality.

But hey it’s a buck. ($1.25 Canadian) and includes a glass of Coke.

For the last couple of days, it’s been pizza, hamburgers or hot dogs for my meals here in Ecuador. It’s all about a $1.25 and usually includes that glass of Coke.

The cheap hamburgers are disgusting, do not get them. I think it’s random meats and sawdust. While the cheap hot dogs are pretty tasty. Be careful, ordering a hot dog with the works, or as they say “todos ” which means mustard,ketchup and mayo.

I know you’re thinking what about Ecuadorian food?

Usually restaurants and cafe’s have an almuerzo, or menu del dia which consists of

1. A meat of some sort

2. A soup

3. Rice

4. Beans

5.A juice

A typical Almuerzo is pretty filling and costs about $3 Canadian.

Obviously this isn’t the only food you can get in Cuenca, Ecuador.

You can get everything from tasty ribs, to strange Ecuadorian / Chinese food (I’ll get into that later).

This article is about what you can get for a cheap $1 lunch.

Hope this helps you with your decision, of whether or not you’re coming to Cuenca, Ecuador to retire cheap.

See you soon!

And if you want to see the new YouTube channel ? LINK TO MY YOUTUBE VIDEOS

A New York Style Pizza at Chicago Pizza Restaurant in Ecuador.2018-11-25T06:08:29+00:00

Want to Lose Weight? Get Healthy? Retire Cheap in Ecuador!

Here’s a crazy story, but maybe not that crazy.

A man who has lived his whole life in North America, retires cheap in a different country.

He loses a whole bunch of weight, gets way healthier, and gains a newfound life.

This is a story I’ve been told and seen over and over again by expats that I’ve met.

My current roommates are both in their 60’s, but look at least 10 years younger!

Why? Here’s one reason.

Cuenca, Ecuador is a walking city. While you can take a cab ($2 CDN), everything is under a 30 minutes away.

And it’s usually a nice spring like day. So, you figure, why not walk?

Before you know it, you’ve walked up and down hills for an hour every day. Maybe you’ve even done some crazy stairs.

One guy I met, lost 30lbs just by doing this. Nothing else changed.

His diet didn’t change at all. He still had white bread, with kraft singles and bologna for lunch. Dinner? BBQ!

Just the constant walking raised his metabolism and got him in better than he’d been for decades. When was the last time you just walked up and down hills in North America? I remember it would be, go outside. Get into my car, drive to work, drive home after work. And if I was going out on the weekend? No way I was walking there!

Another friend I met, took it even farther. A nutritionist, and author, this friend took advantage of the fresh organic fruits/vegetables that are cheap and plentiful here.

You know how organic tomatoes are crazy expensive in North America? Here all vegetables are basically $1! And really they come straight from somebodies farm.

Combine fresh smoothies, and the walking? Boom….. crazy stackable gains in fitness.

Now me? Every time I take a break in North America I gain weight, but when I get back? It’s back to the protein shakes, walking and of course the gym. Usually I’ll lose 5lbs of fat in a month.

So, yes, if you are looking to lose weight and get healthy? Retire cheap in Ecuador.

Hope you liked the article, and if you want to read more? Head here LINK TO ALL ARTICLES

Want to Lose Weight? Get Healthy? Retire Cheap in Ecuador!2018-11-15T16:00:58+00:00

Lazy Tuk Tuks who don’t give a F*ck F*ck

The sun’s beating down on my lazy ass, so I’m debating if I want to make the 15 minute walk to the mini mart.

Luckily for the block where I’m staying there’s a Tuk Tuk every 4 feet. The call of Tuk Tuk drivers yelling “Tuk Tuk! Want a tuk tuk?”, is as common as mosquitos and 50 cent draft here.

Most of the drivers yell this while lying across their own Tuk Tuks, sometimes while in a hammock they’ve set up.

These guys have seen me everyday, and they probably know my schedule so well, that if an assassin wanted to get me, they’d just have to pay them a $1 to get to know it.

On this particularly hot day thouugh, I thought “Why not?”

So, I go up to one of the guys who has always hassled me, and I ask him how much,

“$6!”

“Are you kidding me?” To be completely honest, my mind is blown. I’ve seen this guy, hang out for 8 hours in front of the bar that I like to go to, with zero customers. He’ll just chat with the other Tuk Tuk driver’s, take naps and yell for customers.

Normally, I’m polite to these guys, (hey, we’re all out to make a buck). But a quote of $6, for something that should be about 80 cents? I didn’t mean to, but I did laugh out loud.

I just walked away, deciding a 15 minute trek though the blazing heat would be more enjoyable than haggling.

The Tuk Tuk driver, tried to haggle some more, but being sweaty and kind of annoyed that I had given him a chance only to get such a ridiculous price, I walked away.

I met up with a local Khmer and asked them how much Tuk Tuk drivers make a month. It turn’s out most of them make about $50 a month.

But they’d rather take a nap then try to find customers.

And when they do get a customer, these lazy drivers will try to get an exorbitant price versus a normal rate.

In their mind, “I’d rather get 6 customers a month at $10 each. Napping is so much easier, than trying harder.”

I can see this behaviour making sense making 5 years ago when there weren’t any ride sharing apps, but there are!

PassApp is actually used to book Tuk Tuks, or you can use GRAB as well. Both of these work fine, an 80 cent ride is an 80 cent ride. (Prices are confirmed ahead of time). Every time one of the lazy drivers, see me in a Tuk Tuk that  I’ve called by GRAB they’ll scowl, and yell. But there’s nothing they can do.

These apps, are a lifesaver in Siem Reap. If you’re negotiating for a Tuk Tuk on the side of the road? You’re probably going to get ripped off.

Do yourself a favor, and make sure you have an APP downloaded by the time you get out off the plane.

Want more stories? Check out LINK TO MORE STORIES

Lazy Tuk Tuks who don’t give a F*ck F*ck2018-10-02T04:23:26+00:00

Getting to Phomn Penh from Saigon

Retiring cheap in Vietnam means you are going to be going to Cambodia. Why? Visa runs. The typical visa you’re going to get in Vietnam will be the 3 month tourist visa. This means every 3 months, off you go somewhere else. For most people it means taking the bus to Cambodia ($20 CDN)

You might not go all the way to Phomn Penh, but if you are here’s the scoop.

First you’ll buy a bus ticket from Giant Ibis. This company ACTUALLY has a website where you can actually buy your ticket.

This might not seem like a big deal to you if you’ve never left North America. But believe me it is.

Showing up at the bus station (it’s in Bui Vien District 1) you might not actually see it. I was expecting a big terminal with buses. I actually refused to get out of my GRAB until he told me 100 times that, “yes, this is Giant Ibis”.

The little office is tucked inside. So look for the Panda Travel sign.

There are no buses around. They just pull up when it’s time to go.

Before you board, they are going to want to see your passport and if you don’t have a Cambodian Visa, you’ll pay for one here ($35 USD). It’s important to note that the price is in USD.

From this point on, you will no longer need your Vietnemase Dong (hehehhehe).

Cambodia works on Riels, and USD. There’s a currency exchange place right next door though.

I don’t know how badly I got ripped off. I just needed some greenbacks.

Getting on the bus was simple with the arranged seats

The bus itself is comfortable, think Economy plus on an airplane. It’s got wifi, electrical plugs for your gear, and reclining seats. BRING A JACKET! The Aircon on the bus is cold. Almost every girl ran to the storage area at the first stop to get a jacket. At this point you should hang out near that area of the bus to make sure, nobody “accidentally” goes into your bags).

You’ll also get a water, pastry and wet wipe.

The bus trip was from 830 am to 430pm.

There are NO bathrooms on the bus. They do make stops every few hours though.

The first stop is at a mediocre restaurant. Don’t eat there. The food is overpriced and not so good.

They do have nice bathrooms though.

Going through customs is a breeze. The bus driver takes your passport, does all paperwork and then gives it all to the customs guys. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR BUS DRIVER. (He’s going to go the area you need to go, but isn’t going to wait for you.)

You’ll first get your Vietnam exit stamp then drive for a bit to the Cambodian border.

When you get to the border stops, you’ll get bombarded by money changers. If you do decide to use a money changer, find out the exchange rate and then use your own calculator to figure out the amount you should get.

(I’ve heard they like to give an ok exchange rate, then short change you on the actual money given.)

There’s another stop where you’re going to be able to get decent fried chicken and food at a little cart. I recommend eating here.

Arriving at the Giant Ibis station in Phomn Penh means dealing with Tuk Tuks.

The English speaking level here is actually pretty good. (I’m rating it 8//10….like the Philippines) If you’re going to an out of the way place to stay, it’s handy to have the phone number. The tuk tuk drivers will call them for you for directions.

I didn’t see any cabs. In the two days I’ve been here, I’ve seen zero cabs. There is Grab and PassApp in Cambodia.

How much is a Tuk Tuk? My place was 23 minutes away from the Giant Ibis terminal. So, they quoted $20 USD.

From my experience in Bangkok, I know that Tuk Tuks are the greediest bastards you’ll ever see. After several minutes of haggling I settled on $12 USD.

Normally I would NEVER take a tuk tuk from a bus/train/plane station. You know it’s going to severely over priced.

But when I arrived the rain was so heavy and torrential that cars were up to mid rim. Literally calf deep water.

In that type of weather, I’ll pay a little more. (My ride back by the way was $7 USD negotiated with a random tuk tuk near where I was staying).

I hope this helps you on your way to find the best place to retire cheap. If you want more articles this is the place to go. LINKS TO ALL ARTICLES

Getting to Phomn Penh from Saigon2018-08-08T09:20:43+00:00

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